On Saturday, June 24th, Mrs. Animal and I had booked a day’s multi-species fishing with Miller’s Landing out of Seward, for fishing in Resurrection Bay and the Gulf of Alaska. It was a cold, drizzly day out on the water, but the fishing was pretty good, and the trip was worth every penny. If you’re ever in the area and want some great salt-water fishing, I highly recommend these folks.
(Note: I have no affiliation with Miller’s Landing, I receive nothing for my recommendation, we simply enjoyed the experience and I make this recommendation as one does to one’s friends.)
Seward is in itself a neat place to visit, as I’ve described before. It’s about two and a half hours from Anchorage, and it’s a beautiful drive down the Turnagain Arm past Portage, over the pass into the Kenai Peninsula, then bearing left at Tern Lake down AK Highway 9 to Seward. That alone is worth the trip, but fishing is a great bonus (there’s plenty of good freshwater fishing along the way as well.) You’ll get to see glaciers, vast forests of spruce and birch, the turquoise waters of Kenai Lake, and a lot more.
But the fishing was the goal of this day, so we drove down through mist and rain the night before, so as to be ready for an early start to a long day.
We left Miller’s Landing at 6AM, with our Captain driving the big flat-bottomed boat into a thick fog. Mrs. Animal and I were joined on the boat by four other anglers, and along with the Captain and mate, it proved to be a convivial group.
On the way to the fishing grounds we were treated to the sight of sea otters floating placidly along on their backs enjoying breakfast, which they ate using their thickly-furred tummies as dining tables. We also saw a young humpback whale ‘lunge feeding.’ That alone would have made the trip worthwhile, and we had not yet even reached the fishing grounds.
Our first stop was at a place the crew called “the Mountain,” a big underwater massif that showed up really clearly on the fish-finder sonar. We dropped anchor and started fishing in what the crew said was a good place for both black and yellow-eyed rockfish, which we pretty quickly started hauling in. Along with the rock we were hauling in plenty of Pacific cod, a trend that continued throughout the day. Another, less fortunate but still common catch was a critter called a “arrowtooth flounder,” a flatfish that has a mouthful of shark-like teeth and apparently is very poor eating; those went back over the side.
We soon limited out on rock (three each) and continued hauling in cod for a while. While our Captain had hoped to get some halibut action on the Mountain, it didn’t look like that was going to happen. So, after pulling in a few more cod, and with halibut in mind, the crew hauled anchor and we drove south, to near where Resurrection Bay meets the Gulf of Alaska. There we ‘drift fished,’ as in, letting the boat drift while dropping lines into the 450-foot deep water. The day remained cold and rainy, but we endeavored to persevere, and were rewarded with more cod and a few smallish halibut.
The lack of halibut was, in fact, the only disappointment in the whole affair. On our one prior Alaska salt-water experience, we ended up bringing in eight halibut (two of the kids were along) and ended up with about 160 pounds of that lovely, clean, white fish, and that was after sending about ten pounds to my parents and ten to Mrs. Animal’s folks. But they do call it fishing, not catching, and we still came out of it with plenty for the freezer.
We took home a tad less than fifty pounds of fish, mostly rock and cod, maybe 6-7 pounds of halibut. We would have liked to have had more halibut, it’s one of our favorite fish to eat, but the big flatfish just weren’t out that day.
Neither me nor Mrs. Animal (despite her having grown up only a few miles from the Atlantic) have done much salt-water fishing. The fishing this day was in deep water, from 300 to 450 feet, and with rock and cod, most of what is involved consists of hauling big heavy fish all the way up the water column. My back was sore the next day, and Mrs. Animal, being much smaller and with some neurological issues, was hurting for a few days.
All those unused muscle groups, I suppose.
Both of us agreed that the outing, and the delicious stock of fish in the freezer, was worth the aches and pains and then some. If you are in Alaska and want a great fishing experience, Miller’s Landing can provide that.